Running Back Roundup: Eddie Lacy, Melvin Gordon & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Week 6 is in the books, for the most part, and there is definitely some interesting fallout. Let’s take a look at three of the more intriguing running back questions to come out of the week and try to determine how fantasy owners should proceed:

Green Bay Packers

The Numbers:

  • Eddie Lacy – 4 carries for 3 yards; 2 catches for 17 yards
  • James Starks – 10 carries for 112 yards and 1 TD; 1 catch for 5 yards and 1 TD

Lacy has been battling an ankle injury, though he was absent from the team’s injury report this week. This is shaping up as a “hot hand” situation, it would seem, and this quote from coach Mike McCarthy, courtesy of Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentine, seems to back it up:

“We’re a one-two punch team,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “It’s really no different than the way we operate. We went with James first just because he’s been playing extremely well, and Eddie has been a little banged up.”

Starks’ numbers haven’t been tremendous this season, outside of a big game against the Seahawks, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out. At this point both backs are difficult to trust, though, as things could easily change on a weekly basis. The fact that there are a few tougher matchups on the horizon, with the Broncos and Panthers coming up after their bye week, only adds to the concern.

Both players should be owned, with Lacy still holding the higher upside, but we’d prefer to avoid both until there’s a bit more clarity.

San Diego Chargers

The Numbers:

  • Melvin Gordon – 7 carries for 29 yards
  • Brandon Oliver – 7 carries for 23 yards

Danny Woodhead is going to be the pass catching back, regardless of who sees early down work. The key to this situation is the fumbles, as Oliver only saw time thanks to Gordon fumbling twice (and losing 1). He’s now fumbled the ball four times on the year, including three times in the past two games, so it will be interesting to see how the Chargers proceed.

It’s possible that they continue to bench the rookie, until he corrects the problem, though he does clearly offer the most upside of anyone in the backfield (despite his early struggles). We’d anticipate things getting better before long and ultimately it’s going to continue to be his job.

While sliding him to your fantasy bench makes sense, don’t lose all hope.

Cleveland Browns

The Numbers:

  • Duke Johnson – 9 carries for 38 yards; 3 receptions for 18 yards
  • Isaiah Crowell – 11 carries for 32 yards; 2 receptions for 9 yards
  • Robert Turbin – 10 carries for 27 yards

Talk about a mess in the making, Turbin saw his first action of the season and immediately cut into the early down workload of Crowell. It’s not like Crowell has been impressive, averaging 3.7 yards per carry, so the potential change does make sense. Will this be a full-time change, though, a hot hand approach or just a complete mess moving forward?

We’d guess #3, especially since this is the Browns we are talking about, though time will tell. At the end of the day Johnson should be the most valuable option, as the passing down back, with the other two both worth owning but not utilizing until the situation plays itself out.

Denver Broncos

the Numbers:

  • Ronnie Hillman – 20 carries for 111 yards
  • C.J. Anderson – 13 carries for 41 yards

Does anyone believe there is still any type of controversy here?  Hillman has routinely outperformed Anderson and, at this point, has to be viewed as the lead back.  Continue to stash Anderson, because you never know and he should maintain a role, but Hillman is the running back to own.

Sources – ESPN, NFL.com

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